UK-wide furlough scheme extension expected

The current furlough scheme currently runs until the end of June

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce an extension to the furlough scheme under which the Government subsidises the wages of workers temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus.

At least 6.3 million people are currently having up to 80% of their salaries paid by the taxpayer under the furlough system at a cost of some £8 billion.

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Mr Sunak has previously said he was preparing to "wean" workers and businesses off the programme - which currently runs until the end of June - but calls have been made for it to be prolonged.

Furlough scheme extension expected

It has been reported the programme will continue to September, although the rate of support will be cut from a maximum of 80% of salary to 60%.

Meanwhile, ministers are to set out guidance on how people can travel safely on public transport as the coronavirus lockdown begins to ease.

The death toll from coronavirus in the UK stood at more than 32,000 as the Prime Minister said he wants those who cannot work from home to start returning to their workplaces from Wednesday.

Mr Sunak last week warned the furlough scheme was not "sustainable" at its current rate although he promised there would be no "cliff edge" cut-off.

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank and an early advocate of the scheme, said it should be phased out gradually.

"Moving too quickly could spark a huge second surge in job losses at a time when unemployment already looks set to be at the highest level for a quarter of a century," he said.

"This policy has made a huge difference in this crisis. It now needs careful and gradual change to ensure the benefits it has provided are secured rather than squandered."

Meanwhile, the managing director of leisure operator GLL Mark Sesnan has suggested any tapering should be looked at on a sector-by-sector basis.

He said: "Industries such as leisure and hospitality (should be) protected.

"This is because, in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, we will have to operate at a significantly reduced capacity.

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